SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

Sa Dragonera Natural Park is made up of three islets, Illot des Pantaleu, Sa Mitjana and Sa Dragonera. With a land surface of 274 hectares, the entire Park, along with a considerable marine area, has been declared a Site of Community Importance (SCI) and an Area of Special Protection for Birds, thus also forming part of the Natura 2000 Network.

Located just off the south-western coast of Mallorca, Sa Dragonera is separated from the main island by a small channel with a width of 800 m and a maximum depth of approximately 15 m.

The road to the conservation of this Park was not easy. In fact, the Park’s protection largely owes itself to the heavy pressures of the local people, who fought against attempts to develop the island in the 1970s. As a result, Sa Dragonera has become a symbol of Balearic conservationism. In 1987, the Consell de Mallorca purchased the island, which was declared a Natural Area of Special Interest until it finally became a Natural Park in 1995.

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

The Park is open to visitors all year round, from 10 am to 5 pm between 1 April and 30 September, and from 10 am to 2:30 pm during the rest of the year.

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

  • Please remain on the marked paths at all times.
  • The removal of any type of matter from the Park, living or inert, is not allowed.
  • Lighting fires is prohibited.
  • Pets are not allowed in the Park.
  • Please proceed quietly while in the Park and avoid making noise.
  • Sports activities other than hiking are not allowed in the Park.
  • Please take your waste with you.
  • Please do not feed the wall lizards or any other animals.
  • Fishing from the coast of the Park and collecting marine organisms are prohibited.
  • Camping is not allowed.

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

To access the island, there is a service via small boats that leave the docks of Sant Elm and the Port of Andratx between February and October.

MAPA

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

The size of Sa Dragonera and its dry climate and relief, along with its marine influence, make for an exceptional natural wealth. Sa Dragonera is home to 361 different plant species, 18 of which are endemic to the Balearics. The largest plant populations in the Park are the scrubland communities of wild olive (Olea europaea) and spurge olive (Cneorum tricoccon). Less extensive though extremely diverse are the plant communities that are found along the coast, on sea cliffs and in crevices and walls. In fact, it is the island’s jagged landscape that facilitates the growth of these plants. The Park’s fauna is another of its most interesting aspects. Particularly worthy of note among the invertebrates that inhabit Sa Dragonera is the wall lizard population, an endemic subspecies (Podarcis lilfordi giglioli) that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, as well as the particular snail species (Iberellus balearicus), which is also endemic to the Balearic Islands. The Park’s list of catalogued seafaring birds is extensive and includes the Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii) and the Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus), one of the few birds that are endemic to the Balearic Islands. Among the birds of prey found here, Sa Dragonera boasts the largest Eleonora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae) population in the archipelago. As to the mammals, the bats are the Park’s only naturally existing group and include at least 5 species, some of which are migrant. All of the other mammals found here (rats, rabbits and mice) have been introduced to the island, and their presence is considered a threat to the autochthonous flora and fauna. The waters and marine floor are included in the Park’s area of marine influence, which contains a well-conserved array of underwater ecosystems representative of the western Mediterranean. Particularly worthy of note for their diversity are the Posidonia oceanicaprairies, a refuge for countless marine species and coral communities.

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

AT THE PARK -Cala Lledó Visitors’ Centre. Telephone 971 18 06 32. Visiting hours: April-September: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. October-March: 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. -Far de Tramuntana (Lighthouse) Exhibition “En els camins de la mar” (“On the Roads of the Sea”) OUTSIDE OF THE PARK -Tourist Information Office in Sant Elm, Andratx (open between May and October) Avinguda Jaume I, 18. Telèfon 971 239205. -Park Office at the Consell de Mallorca: C/ General Riera, 111, 07010 Palma. Telephone 971 17 37 00

-IBANAT (CAIB): C/ Gremi de Corredors, 10-1r. Polígon de Son Rossinyol, 07009 Palma. Telephone 971 17 66 13
  • Fax 971 17 76 47

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

       
  • Itinerari de na Miranda
  •    
  • Itinerari del far des Llebeig
  •    
  • Itinerari del far de Tramuntana
  •    
  • Itinerari del far Vell

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

Itinerari de na Miranda

Dificultad:Low
Duración:30 min

Color:   

This is a very short itinerary, perfect for the hottest days of summer. Next to the lookout is a pine grove with tables and benches: an ideal spot for a picnic in the shade. The path crosses the most developed area of Dragonera, which is also the most diverse.

Etapas

You can get to the island Dragonera from Sant Elm or Port d’Andratx. The shortest boat ride is from Sant Elm, which means the timetable from there is more flexible, with more departures. The catamarans from the Port d’Andratx are bigger, on the other hand, and give you a near complete view of the Andratx coastline. Once you arrive at the small pier Lledó you can speak to the Park staff and get all the information you need to make the most of your day out. You can access the cove directly from here, so if you want to take a quick dip in the sea you are just a few steps from the water. But be careful and look out for jellyfish — at times they concentrate in the port area. The beach is a tiny pebble beach shaded by tamarisks. The Sa Cova torrent ends here and has shaped the ground into a terraced landscape. Mastic grows so well here that they are high as trees. Pebbles guarantee clear, clean water. The cliffs around the inlet are made of conglomerate from the Miocene: different size stones cemented into a calcareous mould. The marine part of the Park consists of the waters and seabed around Dragonera up to the Mallorcan coast, including the islets Calafats, L’Illa Mitjana and Es Panteleu. It has a special protection status. The ten kilometres of Dragonera coastline host a representative and well-preserved example of western Mediterranean underwater ecosystems. A quick dive will show you a great variety of sea creatures: from limpets and stone crabs to various coastal fish species such as damselfish, comber, sand perch, white sea bream, common two-banded seabream, salema etc. Do not miss the opportunity to get to know them all.
From the houses you can see the Colomer tower on the other side of the beach. Walk towards it along the first path to the right, past some old henhouses and a pine grove. After a couple of bends you enter the Tancat de Tramuntana where some cultivated land and olive groves are preserved. These days they are only kept as a reminder of the area’s agricultural past, but they provide many bird species with olives and seeds. Behind the olive grove you see the small Lledó port, open towards southeast and with boats docked by the pier. The path makes a final turn that takes you to Na Miranda. To the left there is a little pine grove with some tables. From the lookout you can see the Punta des Calafats and just next to it a file of jagged reefs. To the right is the Illa Mitjana (island), it almost looks like it is part of the Santa Elm coastline. If you turn to face west there is a magnificent view of Na Pòpia with the top cut off by the Tramuntana hill, and the Far Vell lighthouse at the highest point. The walk continues among pine trees and olive terraces. Walk past the Torre des Colomer. The tower looks like it should feature in an operetta with its crenellations, the rounded gate and small window with a platform where doves take flight. The path joins the main path to the lighthouse just before the small Tramuntana hill. If you keep walking you will get to the lighthouse and if you take a left you will descend towards the port again.
Walking back and looking to your left is the path you took on the way up: terraces, olive groves, fields and the Torre de Colomer sticking out of the pine wood. Walk towards the south-west looking towards Na Pòpia. This 352-metre hill is the highest point on the island. Its incline towards the north follows the same pattern as the Serra de Tramuntana on Mallorca. They were shaped as a result of powerful folding action during the Early and Middle Miocene ages. As a result of a north-westerly compression the rock of the original platform rose and started overlapping, creating the outline you can see today. Na Pòpia is a name that was saved from obscurity and frequent visitors to Dragonera are well acquainted with it. The origin of the name is uncertain. One theory is that it is derived from the word popa in Catalan, meaning ‘breast of a woman or female animal’. Linguists confirm that using the image of a breast is not uncommon in place names. Na Pòpia is also known as the Puig el Far Vell or Cingle de na Guinavera. The latter perhaps derived from Catalan gavina—gull, alluding to the numerous colonies found there.
Gulls and lizards are the most common animals on the island. Their presence around you in summer is constant. The rustling of reptiles echoing footsteps and the screeching of gulls mix with a chorus of cicadas to provide a unique musical backdrop as you walk along the trails on Dragonera. Birds are one of the most interesting things to see on Dragonera. There are important colonies of sea birds nesting here, like the Cory’s shearwater, (Calonectris diomedea), the European shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) and Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii); birds of prey like Eleonora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae), and migratory birds using the island as a stop to feed and rest. The black-headed gull, on the other hand, is subject to population control since their colonies might negatively affect the other birds on the island. The lizards (Podarcis lilfordi ssp. Giglioli) belong to a subspecies exclusive to Dragonera and are therefore important to protect. Lizards used to live all over the Balearic Islands, but the arrival of humans and other predators saw them disappear. They are now confined to small islands and islets.

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

Itinerari del far des Llebeig

Dificultad:Medium
Distancia:4532 m
Duración:3 h
Recomendaciones:-

Color:   

This is the longest route, but possibly easier than the ascent to Far Vell. You can make a detour to the Llebeig tower and from there take the path leading down to the cove. The tower is the oldest building on the island, built towards the end of the 16th century.

Etapas

Heading towards south-west you leave the reception centre behind and to the right of it another building that houses staff working on the island. The path ascends slightly and you will soon be high enough to see the small port known as Lledó. Arriving at the Garrots torrent there is an area with pine trees. Along the path you can see friar’s cowls, Arum pictum and sea onions. The torrent runs into Cala de S’Art (beach) where fishermen would fish for picarel using an artet — a kind of trawling net they threw out from land. The trail now skirts along the island’s south coast. Every now and then an old pine tree lends some shade to the path, letting you catch your breath. Wild olive trees and tree spurges dominate the landscape together with olive trees and buckthorn. In spring the tree spurges will catch your eye with their brilliant yellow colour, then as the year moves on their leaves turn red and eventually fall in the middle of summer, to combat the draught. You pass a water trough built next to the path to collect water from the rock — all this ingenuity to collect a little bit of moisture. Further on, by the lower part of the Cala Cucó torrent, you can see a water cistern built in the 19th century. This is a more significant construction that collected runoff water and watered cattle scattered around the fields.
A detour to the right lets you visit a lime kiln and a charcoal storage hut made of stone, not far from the path. They are still in a relatively good state of conservation. The lime kiln is from the 18th century, built to supply lime for the continuous reparations that had to be done to the island’s two towers after repeated pirate attacks. It was used again during the 19th and 20th centuries, when the two lighthouses were built. The kiln was built here by the Cala Cucó river bed to be near the largest woodland area on the island; the pines provided the firewood necessary to produce lime. The kiln can almost be seen from the Camí del Far des Llebeig even if it is a bit hidden by vegetation. The oven itself has a diameter of six metres. Right next to it is the hut used by the workers. You can see Cala Cucó from here, the only beach on the island with pebbles and sand. Further along the path you come across more torrents: the Cala en Begur, the Ses Fontanelles and the Cala des Llebeig. Between the first and second torrents the walk traverses an area with outcrops from the Miocene, like those in the Lledó and Na Miranda areas. This is conglomerate rock where you can easily see the different-size pebbles that were a result of ancient fluvial erosion and got imbedded in a calcareous mould. Next you come to a point with a great view of the lighthouse and the Llebeig tower. The path approaches the peak and turns west, following the south slope of the Puig des Aucellers. Mascaró Passarius in his study of place names concluded that this was the name given to the hill, but according to Rosselló Vaquer the original name was Puig des Orxellers, referring to the age-old activity of collecting orxella — orchil, a natural carmine, purple or violet colour that was obtained from various species of lichen growing on the mountain rocks, mainly those of the genus Roccella. The dye was extracted using ammonium and sold in jars as ‘orchil paste’, very valuable during the Middle Ages.
The Llebeig tower has recently been restored and you are welcome to visit it. A small trail descends to the cove by the same name. One of the first known references to Dragonera’s usefulness as a watchtower can be found in the chronicles on the conquest of Mallorca written by Pere Marsili (1314) where he says “that piece of rock is not completely useless, the hand of God put it in the middle of the sea to serve as a watchtower”. A document from 1342 refers to an ‘old tradition’ of sending men (called dragoners) to the island to watch for dangers arriving by sea, and alert the mainland if that were the case. But the first news about the construction of a watchtower on Dragonera come from 1550. The chosen location was the highest point of the island where centuries later, in 1851, the Na Pòpia lighthouse was built. In 1585 a second tower was built, the Llebeig tower, and that tower still stands. It is located on the Cap des Llebeig (cape), on top of a 60-metre cliff. Its purpose was to stop vessels from landing on Cala des Llebeig, which was not visible from the Na Pòpia tower and therefore not part of the signalling system. The tower is round and the inner chamber has a vaulted ceiling. Next to the tower are the remains of a system collecting rainwater in a water cistern. Near the cistern you can still see the remains of four large earthenware jars that were used to collect rainwater and that were mentioned in writing when pirates had destroyed them in 1658. In 1749 they were substituted by new ones. Birds of prey still watch the sea from the old tower and the surrounding scrubland protects smaller birds such as the Balearic warbler, endemic to the islands.
Very near the old watchtower and at the end of the path stands the Llebeig lighthouse at a height of 121 metres above sea level. The lighthouse is lit up by the soft light of the west, a grey slab just a little bit lighter than the cliffs it rises from. A small terrace surrounds it, an empty square inviting you for a walk. This is an ambiguous place; a little bit separated from the Cala des Llebeig, the area around the lighthouse feels like an island on the island. It was built by Eusebi Estada and taken into use in 1910, substituting the Na Pòpia lighthouse. The lighthouse used an incandescent petrol vapour lamp and the beam of light was three equidistant white flashes every five seconds. In 1971 the need to retire personnel off the islands lead to a major reform and the original lantern was replaced. It is now an acetylene gas system with automatic lamp changer and solar valve. The light pattern changed to a white flash every seven and a half second. Nowadays it has a 12V solar array with solar cells on the roof and the light reaches 20 miles.

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

Itinerari del far de Tramuntana

Dificultad:Low
Distancia:1758 m
Duración:1 h
Recomendaciones:-

Color:   

This itinerary works well for a winter’s day, but also during the hottest days of summer when you can enjoy a swim in the cove. Remember to request the key to the lighthouse building if you would like to see the exhibition there and the lighthouse keepers’ quarters.

Etapas

Es Lledó is the start and finish of this walk, the natural port where you arrive at the island. The interpretation centre is located in one of the houses by the water and almost as soon as you set off from there you come to a crossroads. The Tramuntana path leads to the right and is quite an easy walk with pine trees lending their shade to parts of the trail. Around the houses garden plants mix with the island’s natural vegetation. Even though they keep being removed, 46 species have recently been introduced. Another thing you find near the houses are lizards, always ready to catch a breadcrumb. There is no other place in the Balearics where they venture so close. Biologists patiently study them and recent work published show how they help pollinate certain flowers. The lizards have a taste for the nectar. The little Lledó cove has a long history. A talaiot tower stood where the houses are now. Hundreds of graves from Roman times were destroyed among the olive groves around them when the land was transformed into crop fields. A bit further inland the 20-metre Sa Font cave leads to a pool that used to supply the island with fresh water. Next to the pool are shards of jugs, handles, pots from various periods and a little Islamic lamp: an archaeological treasure that arrived from the Eastern Mediterranean.
To begin with you are immersed in the comfortable shade of a pine wood filled with scents of rosemary and thyme (in summer), flowering heather (in autumn) and the brief and fragile steppes (in spring). Almost all year round you can see the delicate green of the Anthyllis cytisoides and the ash-grey houseleeks flecked with yellow. A bit further on and after a bend in the trail you can see the stretch of water separating the island from Mallorca. It is easy to see the reefs known as the Calafats. But others are not as easy to spot: the Escull Negat and Carnisser, for example, remain hidden just under the surface and make it impossible for boats to pass through. Every now and then a break in the waves or a bit of foam gives them away. The pine trees you have left behind contrast against the treeless mountainsides that border a good part of the path. They are steep slopes where undergrowth clings to the stone in round shapes to resist the beating of strong winds. The thorny, pillowed-shape Launaea cervicornis covers the entire coastline. As you approach the top gulls fill the sky. During breeding season you walk through their territory and this provokes such a clamour that it drowns out the constant murmur of the sea. Visitors to Dragonera carry with them the memory of gulls and bold lizards. You can see them up close: the eyes, the beak and the yellow legs stand out against their white feathers, a most brilliant white on the abdomen and grey towards the back. The yellow-legged gull is sometimes called ‘blue-caped gull’ locally — a pretty name for a bird that has lost its charm; it often happens when something multiplies in excess. More popular is the Audouin’s gull, earlier displaced by its relative, but now visibly recuperating.
Dragonera still has some secrets to discover. Islands are like small, separate, simplified worlds, which is why they are considered the best natural laboratories for studying animal evolution. They are also ideal for the study of ecologic relationships between animals and plants. The study of ecologic interaction between the inhabitants of islands is a lot easier to do than on entire continents. Recent studies have been carried out on a species that might be difficult to spot, but plays a key role in the ecosystems on the island: bats. They are the ancient inhabitants of the caves and live in places that remain undisturbed, like the cracks in the rocks. Six different species have been found on Dragonera. The most common one is the ratapinyada de coa llarga (long-tailed bat) distributed more or less over the entire island apart from where the concentration of gulls is very high. Man-made constructions like houses and lighthouses are habitats for species that are more adapted to human environments, such as the ratapinyada comuna (common bat). The Tramuntana area shows the greatest diversity of these mammals. The north-east of the island is the most probable breeding ground for the Balearic shearwater. The colonies are not very well known, but important from a nature conservation point of view. Invertebrates, among which there are several endemic species, are other little jewels on the island. One of the best known is the l’escarabat de sang (‘the blood beetle’ — Timarcha balearica)
The Tramuntana lighthouse is two kilometres from the port and at a height of 65 metres above sea level. Its light reaches out 14 nautical miles. It is a four-sided building on top of an excavation into the limestone. The walls are rough-cut stones with edging made of sandstone. The interior of the building was restored in 2003 when separating walls inside the lighthouse keepers’ quarters were taken down to create a reception room for visitors. The current exhibition ‘On the Paths of the Sea’ complements the information on Dragonera natural park at the reception centre. This is a vision of the island as a place of passage on the maritime routes leading to the Spanish peninsula, with all that it implies from a geographic, historic and human point of view.

SA DRAGONERA NATURAL PARK

Itinerari del far Vell

Dificultad:Medium/ High
Recomendaciones:-

Color:   

Every ten steps you will be going up one metre: from the sea level to the highest point of the island. During summer months protect yourselves from the sun and take plenty of water. At the top of the Na Pòpia peak don’t go too close to the rocks and remember that the lighthouse Far Vell is in ruins. It is an excursion that won’t disappoint you.

Etapas

Every ten steps you ascend a metre — a hike from sea level to the highest point on the island. Protect yourself from the sun in summer and bring a lot of water. Stay away from the cliff edges at the top of Na Pòpia and remember that the Far Vell lighthouse is a ruin. All the same: this excursion will not disappoint.
You leave Lledó walking towards the Far des Llebeig lighthouse. 400 m further along there is a signpost for Coll Roig and the Far Vell lighthouse. Go through the entrance to the Tancat and you will see old terraces invaded by undergrowth, mastic and some wild olive trees that have made themselves at home on the best land on the island. This used to be a bit of a garden with fruit trees and some barley or oats for the sheep. The animals also used the fields as pasture. The Tancat house has been restored and has a porch that can be used as shelter in winter and shade from the sun in summer. It is a good spot for a little snack. Apart from the shelter provided by the house itself, you are also protected by the symbolic presence of the Es Tancat wall: a dry stone wall covered in lichens and gull droppings. Gulls use it as a watchtower during breeding season, one every twenty metres, just like sentinels. From the Tancat house the Camí de na Pòpia, restored in 2005, takes you up to Coll Roig where you can enjoy a view of Mallorca’s northern coastline and the cliffs of Dragonera. Further ahead, more or less in the middle of the hike, you will get to the flattest part of the trail. This is where the Des Garrots torrent begins. Vegetation on the island is slowly recovering from traditional exploitation that was particularly intense on the riverbeds; some old wild olive trees give the trail some shade here and there.
The northern crags are very inaccessible and as such an ideal area of conservation and protection for two shrubs that used to be more common: fan palms and boxwood. They were important to a small manufacturing industry. Fan palms — that you can also see next to the houses at Es Lledó — were used to make handicraft: brushes, baskets, fans… The soft core of the stem is edible and the palm hearts from Dragonera were especially big. Pere Marsili in his chronicles from the early 14th century speaks of the large and tasty fan palm hearts found on Dragonera, not like anything else on the Balearic islands: No ha neguna cosa de fruyts, ni de terra alscunas cosas naxents, sinó solament rayls de palmna fada, las quals en cathalanesch apeylam bargueyons, e d’aquests ha sobremanera molt beyls e grossos e saborosos, que semblants no’n són atrobats en las ylas balears... But more commonly the vegetation near the cliffs will be horse-shoe vetch (Hippocrepis balearica) with its sweetly-scented yellow flowers, the Helicrysum ambiguum with narrow, silky, silvery-grey leaves and flowers gathered in bright-yellow inflorescence heads (when they are dried they get the consistence of an old silk paper) and the pincushion flower (Scabiosa cretica) with large inflorescence heads, full of attractive blue or slightly pink flowers.
The cliffs are home to birds that you can almost see face-to-face. The rising air currents here will let you enjoy their ever-changing display of flight, the acrobatics and play on air of gulls and falcons, so different in everything. Eleonora’s falcon (known locally as queen falcon, marine falcon or black falcon) is an expert flyer. It lives on the Dragonera cliffs, arriving from Madagascar and east Africa. Breeding season is in autumn to coincide with the arrival of small migratory birds, its preferred prey during that time. In summer it hunts insects in flight, making difficult pirouettes to catch them with its talons. The black silhouette of the falcon is not to be confused with that of a raven, the latter has rounder-shaped wings and a more unhurried flight and is also seen sometimes on Dragonera.
The old Na Pòpia lighthouse, or Far Vell (old lighthouse) for short is one of the oldest lighthouses on the Balearic Islands. It was built in 1851 when it replaced an old defence tower. Work to demolish the old tower began on the 16th of September 1850. It is a unique lighthouse in many ways: its position 352 metres up on the Na Guinavera crag; its architectural beauty, placed inside the stone itself, tiered to follow the contours and incline of the landscape, and with an access path held in place by dry stone walls; its location in an exceptional landscape, on an island that is especially valuable from an ecologic point of view, now a natural park; and also its brief history. In 1910 it was replaced by the Tramuntana and Llebeig lighthouses, because especially in winter it got lost inside the mass of clouds concentrating around the top of Na Pòpia and was not visible from the sea. For all the above reasons it is one of the most emblematic lighthouses on the Balearic Islands — definitively the one that has been written about the most. It might be the lighthouse that best exemplifies this sentence from Predrag Matvejevic’s Mediterranean Breviary: “Lighthouses are a special kind of Mediterranean temple…”

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